After a While Comes the Dawn

I stumbled upon a handwritten poem in one of my mother’s journals this morning, a poem by a woman named Veronica A. Shoffstall.  I’m guessing my mother read it in the Ann Landers column of the newspaper back in 1999. Many people would write this incident off as mere coincidence but I don’t believe in coincidences.  Every single step we take, every experience we have to call ours in the great span of history, every single person we encounter – it’s all connected be it minutely and quietly or in a grandiose form, shouting from the designated summits in each of our personal journeys or somewhere in between.

As I read this poem, I heard my mama speaking to me, answering those questions from Nine Lives and reminding me that a part of her is still with me. She’s in the short, peaceful interludes of my thoughts, poetically interjecting with journal entries that reflect a woman who was still learning how to be alone and still discovering that her strength was limitless. She was learning, practicing self-discovery and perhaps, feeling that familiar loss of hope in humankind and true, unconditional love.

I hope that seventeen years ago my mama had someone to discuss life’s perils and disappointments with, someone with whom she could trust and rely on. I hope that she wasn’t just having to say goodbye.

After a While Comes the Dawn POEM.jpg
My mother’s handwritten journal entry

After a while you learn the difference

Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean learning

And company doesn’t mean security

And you begin to understand that kisses aren’t contracts

And presents aren’t promises

And you begin to accept your defeats

With your head held high and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child

You learn to build your roads on today

Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

And futures have a way of falling down in midflight

After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers

And you learn that you really can endure

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth

And you learn and learn…

And you learn

With every goodbye you learn

©Veronica A. Shoffstall



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